Project 2023/24 Homepage
Q: Why now?
A: There are many reasons why we are asking the community to vote on this project now. First, there are several areas of the District that are in need of renovation as determined by the Building Condition Survey and work identified and not included in our current project, Project 2021. The District has an obligation to upkeep the buildings and grounds to ensure the safety and security of our students, staff and community. Second, the District will be paying off debt from prior capital projects in the year 2023-2024. This allows the District to take on new payments in the year 2024-2025 where it would be no increase in the tax levy from this portion of the budget. Payments would be predictable and the District will be able to continue to maintain and upgrade buildings as we are expected to do. Finally, planning for a project takes many years. Once a project is voted on, the design process can take about a year. Review and approval from the State Education Department varies greatly, but can take as long as a year to occur. The bidding and negotiation process follow and that can take 3-4 months to complete. With all of this being said, construction for this project would not start until 2023 and end after the summer of 2024. Planning this way will allow the District to make the necessary upgrades to the buildings and grounds while also avoiding dips and spikes to this area of the budget. The District understands the community’s concerns around continuing the process around project planning during a global pandemic. We will work closely with our architect, construction manager and financial advisor throughout the process to ensure decisions are made that would be in the best interest of the District and would keep us on track with our financial goals.
Q: What is a building condition survey (BCS)?
A: Every five years, a school district is required to complete an inspection of the school buildings to ensure the safety of the school buildings and the welfare of the occupants. This comprehensive report is completed by our architect and engineers and assesses “the need for maintenance, repairs, rehabilitation, reconstruction, construction and other improvements related to the structural integrity and overall safety of public school buildings including but not limited to building systems related to electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, sanitation and health, fire and accident protection” (https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/EDN/409-D). The BCS for our District was completed in early 2020. The results were reviewed with District officials and used to develop the scope of Project 2023/2024.
Q: Why wasn’t infrastructure addressed in the current capital project?
A: Our current Project, Project 2021, has a number of infrastructure items. To review the work that has been completed or will be completed in Project 2021, please visit our Project 2021 webpage..
Q: What exactly is being done in the project and why haven't we seen specific drawings yet?
A: Each school building, the transportation center, the maintenance barn and the district office will have renovations, repairs, and reconstruction based our 2020 building condition survey and work that was not scheduled to be completed in Project 2021. The scope of the project can be found at www.skanschools.org/capitalproject. Drawings are typically completed during the design phase of the project which occurs after the vote. Our architect will meet with all stakeholders in the district and develop plans and drawings for each area of scope within the project.
Q: When is the vote and why is it not being held on the same day as the budget vote in May?
A: The vote will be held from 7am-9pm on December 8, 2020. We chose this date based on the steps that have to be taken to get the project approved and to keep our payments the same as they currently are.
Q: Where will the vote be held?
A: The vote will be held in the District Offices at 45 East Elizabeth Street from 7am-9pm on December 8, 2020.
Q: If I will not be in the District that day or do not feel comfortable voting in person, will absentee ballots be available?
A: Yes. Qualified voters may obtain applications for absentee ballots from the office of the Clerk of the School District or online at the bottom of this page. Qualified voters who do not want to vote in person because of concerns surrounding COVID-19 and public gatherings may request an absentee ballot on those grounds as provided by law and Executive Order(s) then in effect. Completed applications for absentee ballots must be received by the Clerk no later than 5:00 P.M. prevailing time, on December 7, 2020, and must be received no later than 5:00 P.M., prevailing time, on December 1, 2020 if the absentee ballot is to be mailed to the voter. Completed applications received after 5:00 P.M. on December 1, 2020, will require the voter to personally appear at the Office of the Clerk of the School District to receive an absentee ballot. For more information, or to request an application for a ballot, please contact Rebecca York at 315-291-2221 or email@example.com.
Military ballots may be applied for during school business hours at the Office of Clerk of the School District. Completed applications for military ballots must be received by the Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 12, 2020. An individual will qualify as a military voter if he or she (1) is a qualified voter of the State of New York, who is in actual military service, and is absent from the District on the day of registration or election or is discharged from service within 30 days of an election; or (2) a spouse, parent, child, or dependent of such service member who is a qualified voter and is absent due to the service of the military member. Military ballots must be received by the Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the Special District Meeting and Election in order to be canvassed.
Q: What is the total cost of the project, and what will that do to my taxes?
A: The Board has approved a not-to-exceed project cost of $21.5 million. At this amount, because of the debt that we will pay off in 2023-2024, no additional taxes are needed to support this portion of the budget.
Q: Why doesn't the District continue to do smaller projects so that our taxes can go down each year?
A: Given the amount of priority work that has to be done, the state aid that is available, the current interest rates that are available and that we can keep our payments the same as they are now, the district chose to proceed with the full project. Smaller projects would cause a fluctuation in payments and the associated tax bills over the next several years.
Q: How is the District paying for this project?
A: The maximum cost of the project is $21,500,000. The District is asking the voters to use two capital reserves - $2,500,000 of the general construction capital reserve fund and $375,000 of the turf replacement and track resurfacing capital reserve fund. Both reserves were approved by voters in May of 2017 and were part of the long term planning for this project. The District receives state aid for projects approved by the state education department. Skaneateles currently receives 62.9%, or $.629 on every $1.00 spent on work that the state deems aidable. When planning the project, the goal is to have at least 95% of the work deemed as aidable work. The scope of the work is reviewed closely by our financial advisors to ensure that we meet that goal. We strive to be as close to 100% aidable as possible and will continue to review that throughout the project planning process. With the information we have now, we estimate receiving slightly over $12.8 million in state aid, which is disbursed to the district over a 15-year period. After the use of reserves and state aid, the local share is estimated to be around $5.7 million. The entire project cost, minus reserves, will be borrowed and financed over a 15-year period to align with the state aid payments.
Q: How can we be sure that the project will be well-managed and that our tax dollars are being carefully watched?
A: Turner Construction will continue as our construction manager. Their sole function is to provide oversight of the contractors, construction, and budget of the project. Turner Construction, in conjunction with the Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations and our District Treasurer will continue to provide ongoing updates to the board of education, our community advisory committees, and the larger community.
Q: If the community supports the project on December 8, 2020, when will construction begin?
A: Our goal is to start construction the summer of 2023 and continue through late summer/early fall of 2024.
Q: Will there be a chance to discuss our concerns and ask additional questions about Project 2023/24 with district officials?
A: Absolutely! We encourage community members to reach out with any questions or concerns. Superintendent Knuth will hold a "Capital Project Conversation" on Wednesday, December 2. Please reach out to Rebecca York at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending or to set up an alternative time. In addition, there will be a presentation at the beginning of the December 1 Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m. Any questions prior to the presentation can be sent to email@example.com.
Have additional questions? Please let us know by sending your inquiry to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-291-2221.